Where to go Prospecting for Gold in Tennessee:
Tennessee is a very large state from side to side, and a lot of people ask where they can go gold panning in Tn. Unfortunately, the best gold is along the most eastern edge of the state. This is a fairly narrow strip of land along the North Carolina border. The farther you go from the N.C. border, the less gold you find.
There is gold as far south as Ducktown, although it is not very plentiful in that area. You can follow the gold on up into Coker Creek and the Tellico River. These seem to be the best areas to find gold in Tennessee.
Gold panning from the creeks that feed into the Hiwassee river and into the Tellico river seem to be the best areas to find gold flakes. Coker Creek, along it's full length is the best creek that I have personally found, and it is a pretty long creek. The problem is, most of it is on private land, and they will not allow people to prospect on their land for the most part. There are a few, but not many people that will allow you to pan for gold on their part of the creek.
Coker Creek (Falls area)
In Polk County, you can find between 6 and 8 miles of Coker Creek that is on Forestry land, and is open to panning and sluicing for gold. You can hike along the creek from the upper end of the coker creek falls, and go several miles up before hitting private property, or you can go downstream from the upper end of the coker creek falls and find gold for another several miles. Ducket Ridge rd, ends at the bottom of the falls, and puts you out within feet of the water.
Gold is harder to find along the southern end of the creek, but when you find it, it seems to be bigger than what you find in say, Doc Rogers Field, in Monroe County.
Plan to get skunked if you like sitting in one place. You have to search it out.
If you don't find gold in the first few pans, and you have dug down pretty deep, then move to another spot. It can take several test locations before hitting a good place to set up your sluice, or start panning.
I have spent a couple of hours looking for the best spot to start panning. You can work an area 100 yards long, and not find any gold, then another 10 feet, and you find great gold.
Doc Rogers Field (Monroe County)
Doc Rogers Field, is located in the town of Coker Creek, just east of the welcome center. You turn east at the welcome center onto Joe Brown Hwy, (Not Marked) and drive about 500 yards until the tree line ends on your left. There is a small road there, that will take you to the parking and camping area. From there, you just follow the trails to the east and come to the creek in about 100 yards or so.
Doc Rogers Field is probably going to be closed for the next few years, as it has had so many prospectors hitting it, due to the flat land, and easy access, and with some not following the rules, it is being torn apart. The rangers are looking at closing it off for a few years to let the land heal from all the over use, and abuse. It is still open at the time of this writing, on Oct. 3rd, 2011. But I don't expect to see it open come spring of 2012.
Other areas included in Monroe county are all the creeks that flow off of Waucheesi mountain. County maps call this Gold Mountain. You have several creeks, like Sixmile creek, Tobe Creek, Wildcat creek, Lyons creek, Johns creek, Stillhouse creek, as well as many smaller creeks in the area. Most if not all of these gold bearing creeks flow into the Tellico River.
Using a gold dredge to prospect for gold in Tn;
You can use a dredge in most of these creeks and the Tellico river up to a 4 inch nozzle. You need a permit from the Tellico Ranger station if you plan to use a dredge, or any other mechanical devices in Monroe County, including sucker tubes or hand dredges, and panning wheels. The permit is free. The ticket for not having one is $250, and possible loss of equipment, and gold collected with that equipment without the permit. It's free, so just stop in and pick it up. As of Jan 2013, you can now pick up your permit at the Coker Creek welcome center as well as the ranger station. This is great news for people that can't get up during the week.
North of the Tellico River:
I have not gone to any of the creeks north of the Tellico River, but have talked to a lot of prospectors that have gone up into the Indian Boundaries camping area, and panned and sluiced in the creeks up in that area. Many have shown me gold that came from the area.
Also, you can pan, sluice and dredge, in Little River, in Townsend, near Maryville. I know there are public access places along there, and many of our club members go up there to pan, sluice and dredge. The gold is a bit more chunky at times in the river, but I have also heard of a lot of people going there and not finding the gold. Of course, I have heard that plenty of times about Coker Creek, and most of the ones that don't find gold, are beginners that have not gone out with experienced prospectors to learn the ropes, and lean how to find gold.
Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge area;
A lot of people have gone into the little pigeon river, and several of the creeks in the area. I have seen some of the nicest gold come from private property, that locals have asked their friends to let them prospect along the river and creeks.
I talked to another person that was staying in a motel, downtown Gatlinburg, and was panning right along the creek by the street, and found gold. The creek runs from Pigeon Forge, to Gatlinburg, right in the middle of the road. You can pan in this creek/river (little pigeon river) but I am not sure about sluicing. You can NOT go north of Pigeon Forge, into the Smokey Mountain National Forest... This is off limits to ANY kind of prospecting.
North East corner of Tennessee;
I have been told that there are some creeks in this area, near the North Carolina border that have gold, as well as a few along the Virginia border. I have not been given any details to share with you, so if you have more details for me, please let me know and I will amend this page.
The rest of Tennessee, for gold prospecting;
Although there is not a lot of gold in other areas, I have heard that people have found gold at the foot of Mount Eagle, (specs), up on the plateau, (specs) and a little bit of flood gold from the Mississippi river in the flood plains. Most of what I have heard about is small specs. I have not heard anything about any good sized flakes coming from anywhere west of I-75.
I hope this information helps you in your gold panning adventures.
Good Luck, be careful and have fun!